Sponsorship: Bane of Nigerian Football Clubs

It’s hard for football teams in Nigeria to get sponsors because companies that ought to sponsor them don’t have money or don’t want to dole out money… probably for a myriad of reasons but a few will be projected in this and the next article.

Let’s begin by saying that Nigerian football is attractive. It’s splendid in the eyes of people who know the sport more than me. Why could that guy walking on in front of me suddenly to turn to me and ask if I know the score of the match that’s making the neighbourhood ring out with echoes of distinct male fans, hailing their favourite fans to victory or defeat? As if I carried DSTV Mobile on me! That guy may cringe at the prospect of facing me to ask for directions if he needed one but here he was, not caring who I was, how I looked, or what my answer could be; he just asked me without half a second thought. And I gave the answer.

This is the spirit of football. It gives a tranquillity that only the fans can understand. But when they’re feeling intoxicated about football, most times, the intoxication is induced by some foreign distant teams in far away England or Spain. These are the glamorous football clubs. Only a few Nigerians really get that intoxicated when Kano Pillars team play here in Nigeria.

Why is this?

The Nigerian culture is the sort that things are preferred to be done in secrecy. When reacting to questions from pressmen about a year ago, Godwin Spiff Sagbama, the managing director and CEO of Hally Sports International, said although there’s a marketing problem with football here in Nigeria, other countries like Spain, Argentina, spell full terms out to players from the beginning to the end.

Players know what they will earn if they get to the quarter final, or the final. No one, except the sponsors or maybe the team knows for example, how much the Super Eagles spent travelling from Nigeria to Pointe Noire. It just isn’t our business. Yet, these information ought to be readily made available for the masses. It helps would-be-sponsors to comprehend just how much the team is worth.

FIFA, which is the biggest worldwide football organisation, makes its finances known even online so that everybody can see how much is spent each year. NFF doesn’t or won’t consider doing that.

Yet each local team here in Nigeria spend several millions of naira on each match played by two teams. One online news website says that every time a local Nigerian plays with another team, about N44m is spent. Who accounts for the large sum of money? Most of the time, only Glo or in conjunction with another brand, with the help of Federal Government of Nigeria or any interested state government.

But going by the judgement of someone who stands at a distance, it is understandable that local football teams are dull, without flare, without life; and are making little or no effort to improve. Call it the bane of poverty, call it something else, but the Nigerian football clubs must come together and do something drastic to improve their lot.

Talk about jerseys. I haven’t ever seen a jersey from Enyimba or Kano Pillars. Football jerseys that you see on the street or in the market stalls are those of foreign clubs, well manufactured with quality materials—something that the wearer is always proud of.

However, football jersey sales are means by which club and sponsor make money in countries such as Spain, or Germany. It only means that a sponsor will be interested in a football club here in Nigeria if that club can give back something tangible by the way of profits.

In business, once your sponsor is able to discern that your business maintains the required openness, and that your brand is able to give something back, something that can help sustain the sponsor in business, the deal goes on…

So the question is; what can local football teams in Nigeria give back to their sponsors in return? Right now, very few large corporate bodies in Nigeria are interested in sponsoring local football clubs. Next week, my article will deal briefly with the local sponsors and why they may not always want to continue sponsoring local football clubs.

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